What Oakland looks like to the people running this joint. [source]There are many things that the city tries to do to clamp down on civil unrest. Apparently it's still some hilarious caricature of 60s "law and order" conservative backlash for the folks who govern us, because they just keep treating us like wild animals that need to be closely watched and controlled.

Attempts to clamp down on civil unrest

They keep coming up with hilarious ways to try and clamp down on all the civil unresting:


Effect of trying to clamp down on civil unrest: civil unrest

Hilariously, these kinds of things make people angry (which...you can see where we're going here...makes them more likely to be unrestful) because humans typically don't like being treated like things that need to be controlled. It turns out that humans often prefer to be treated like humans.


History of attempts to clamp down on civil unrest

This isn't new. It's been going on for a really long time! Back in the day (for a very long time!), they imported cops from the south because they WANTED the racist ones to be more brutal in controlling the population. That worked out REALLY WELL.


Are they really trying to clamp down on civil unrest or is it because of crime?

"Oakland Demographics" (basically "good upstanding citizens" and "rabble rousers") according to city contractor Strategic Policy Partnership.Sure they say that it's for "controlling crime" but it's pretty clear at this point that's not the case. How do we know?

  • City staff emails released through a FOIA request about the Domain Awareness Center say that it's needed to deal with protests in Oakland. Here's the article.
  • Report prepared by a contractor to recommend a police strategy to Oakland put Oakland residents into categories for basically "good upstanding citizens" and "rabble rousers."
  • Would you come up with some of these measures if you really wanted to help solve crime in Oakland?

Giving councilcritters and city staff the benefit of the doubt, there's still no excuse for stuff like this. If they really ARE trying to solve crime, why are the things they consider typically the most hardline options? There are infinite unknowable reasons for this, but some of them might include cost and difficulty of other options (such as actually reforming the police department, fixing the schools, creating equitable economic opportunity, etc.) and because it's easier to win reelection when you can show that you did something about crime. In other words, the incentives are all wrong (and of course we're taking a politically realist perspective and assuming that they are not necessarily motivated by the desire to represent all citizens of Oakland, both "good upstanding citizens" and "starving filthy beggars.")


How to stop this kind of thing

It's not clear what it will take to stop this kind of thing from happening all the time. Maybe City Council should read the Dalai Lama's twitter for some perspective and consider some ways to improve Oakland residents' ability to influence city decisions (cough cough, democracy).

Please add more suggestions here..or in Things that would make Oakland more democratic.